Best Way to Clean Electrical Contacts

Electrical contacts can get dirty over time, and there are some good ways to clean them. You will get a bit disappointed if you try to clean them with water. To do it safely and effectively, you need some tools and products. In this post we will show you the best way to clean electrical contacts.

Oxidation is the main issue

There is a lot of corrosive gas around us. One of the culprits is Oxygen, and it targets metals. Metal oxides are formed when oxygen is combined with pure metals. The base metal has very different properties than metal oxides. 

It can be beneficial in some situations. When aluminium oxide is formed on an aluminium door, you do not need to worry about further corrosion. But metal oxides are a cause of concern in most situations. Zinc and copper oxides reduce the conductivity of the base metal. An electrical contact will not work well if it has too much oxidation.

Contacts can have oxidation even if they are not exposed to the atmosphere. Oxidation and corrosion can appear on contacts due to arching. On contacts, AC current is not as hard as DC current. During zero-crossing, AC arcs self-extinguish. But debris can be produced in either way, and it will certainly interfere with conductivity. 

It is impossible to get rid of contact oxidation, but it can be controlled. There are a few ways to deal with oxidation, and wetting current is among the most effective ways. You can also use snubber capacitors to resolve some issues. If you are looking for the best way to clean electrical contacts, you must know that oxidation is the no. one enemy.

Cleaning solutions

Cleaning electrical contacts basically means removing oxidation. For this purpose you need to use a reasonably strong solvent. You may be tempted to use isopropyl alcohol, but it is in fact a poor choice, because alcohols react poorly with metal oxides.

Electrical contacts can be contaminated by not only oxides but also other forms of contaminants such as oils, greases and organics. Moreover, oxides do not always form layers of films. There are other forms of oxidation and they are a bit hard to address.

A contact cleaning job may sound easy, but in most cases it is not. Sometimes you will find metal oxide really stubborn. In such a case you will have to use more complex formulations. But the whole point of this discussion is to let you know that using a cleaning solution is the best way to clean electrical contacts. 

Do you need contact cleaning solutions? 

Many industrial businesses are now using contact cleaning solutions to clean metal parts. These solvents are very effective and easy to use, and they are growing in popularity. Most solvents use isopropyl alcohol as a cleaning agent. If your electrical contact has dust, dirt, grime, rust, grease or oil, you can safely use a contact cleaning solvent.

These solutions work very effectively against corrosive particles. If you can use the solutions properly, you can easily get rid of these particles.

Easy availability is one of the main reasons why these solvents are so popular. You can easily find these solvents at hardware stores and hobby shops. Besides, they are affordable.

These solvents are eco-friendly, which means they are not hazardous to people and the environment. Are you looking for the best way to clean electrical contacts, you have to use a solution especially designed to clean these contacts.

Gone are the days when industrial cleaning solvents were not eco-friendly. Now if you want to use something environmentally friendly, feel free to use a commercial contact cleaning solvent.

Use it as a lubricant

A contact cleaning solution can also be used as a lubricant. If there are dirt and grease on the contact, a contact cleaning solution can carry them away. But how does it work as a lubricant?

If you use this solution, air can not chemically react, which means oxidation can not easily form. It is true that you can not completely stop this from happening, but you can certainly reduce the formation of oxidation. This thin coating of oil protects your contact in the long run.

Remove the tarnish 

Scrapping the tarnish off is one of the best ways to clean the surface. To scrape off the tarnish, you can rub the contact with a piece of metal. The contact will work well once you have scrapped the tarnish off.

You will not have to worry until oxidation forms again. Removing the tarnish, no matter how you do it, is practically the best way to clean electrical contacts. According to instructions, you must scrap off the tarnish before you use a cleaning solution.

The contact will conduct again only if the tarnish is scrapped off. If you just need to remove dirt and coatings, you can use a contact cleaning solution for this purpose. But remember that this solution is not designed to stop chemical reactions. That means it will not be able to dissolve tarnish.

Use a microbrush

A microbrush is a disposable, tiny tool and it is used to clean small spaces. You will find a good microbrush if you visit an office supply store. Many online shops also sell micro brushes. Although using a microbrush may not be the best way to clean electrical contacts, this is a very hand tool, and you will find it useful.

You need to use a cleaning solution. But if that is not available, you can use nail polish remover, white vinegar or rubbing alcohol as alternatives.

You can clean electrical contacts with just a microbrush and some solutions. Before you start cleaning, unplug the item. The brush should also be dipped into a cleaning solution. Insert it into the electrical contact and clean it. The brush should not contain too much solution. If there is too much solution, dab the brush off before using it to clean the contact.

Once you have cleaned the contact, allow it to dry. If you use alcohol, you can expect it to dry quickly. But nail polish remover, vinegar and cleaning solution will take longer to dry.

Get a contact cleaner kit

To clean electrical contacts, you can also buy a kit. Before you start using it, read the instructions carefully. With the kit, usually you will get a few types of solution. At first try to remove dirt and debris without using the solution. Then, when you use the solution, the item must be unplugged.

Apply the solution with the application brush, and make sure that the entire surface is covered. Leave it for a certain span of time according to the instructions. If the contact is really dirty, you may need to leave it overnight. Use a piece of lint-free cloth or a brush to wipe off the electrical contact. You can repeat the process if the contact is still dirty.

Using a contact cleaner kit is perhaps the best way to clean electrical contacts, because you will find all necessary tools in the kit. You will not have to buy anything else.

Things to consider when buying a contact cleaning solution 

It is true that many contact cleaning solutions are eco-friendly, but you should still consider some important before you buy a solution. First of all, you have to make sure that the solution has a high flash point. If it does not have a high flashpoint, you will have to deal with some unexpected issues.

Secondly, it is important to use a contact cleaning solution that evaporate completely and does not leave any residue. If the solution is designed in such a way, you will not have to wait a long time while it dries. A good solution will dry within minutes. However, in some situations you will have to leave it overnight so that it dries properly.

You also have to make sure that the solution is free from hazardous ingredients. As mentioned earlier, oxidation may not look like oxidation in some situations. So the main part of the process is not to remove oxidation but to protect the contact from further deterioration.

Although using a contact cleaning solution is the best way to clean electrical contacts, there are potential dangers. If the solution contains hazardous ingredients, it will be dangerous for both you and the environment. But finding a good solution is not a tough deal, because producers now tend to make solutions that are environmentally friendly.

Finally, there are corrosion test requirements and the solution must meet those requirements. To know whether a particular solution meets those requirements, you need to do some research. You will learn a lot of important things if you just visit some relevant websites.